Gotta say, I had high hopes for tonight's episode of "Lost." For one thing, it was the series' 100th episode, and many shows try to do something big to mark that occasion. For another, the episode was titled "The Variable," a scientifically-skewed title that brought to mind one of last season's most beloved and twistiest episodes, "The Constant."
Admittedly, it was a decent episode, giving us some solid back story on Daniel and Eloise (and helping explain why both of them seem so cuckoo), and advancing the main plot a bit. Yet it wasn't a spectacular episode -- certainly not up to the standard of "The Constant," but also paling in comparison to the two excellent episodes that preceded "The Variable," "Dead is Dead" and "Some Like it Hoth."
I guess the problem is, though I like (liked?) Daniel, I just don't feel as connected to him as I do the other characters. Maybe it's because he's just so strange and otherworldly -- and not in a badass Ben Linus way. Daniel just always seemed like a cipher to me, an intriguing yet spooky character that I admired but just couldn't warm to. Even Ben, the show's probable villain, is more engaging. I want to know what's going on in Ben's mind because I sense it's a deep, dark, complicated place.
Daniel's mind seems like it's all equations and hypotheses and theories about destiny. Oh, and a deep love for women who will eventually experience terrible suffering because of him... or shoot him.
Still, though I found it underwhelming, the episode provided plenty of fodder for discussion. We learned just HOW close Eloise and Charles Widmore really were; whether Desmond survived Ben's gunshot; and how the assault of Phil will affect the islanders.
Below is a rundown of some thoughts about, observations on and highlights from "The Variable."
* First, we must talk about Desmond. I guess I was so relieved that Ben didn't kill Penny that I didn't realize how hurt Desmond was. I was pretty worried about ol' Des when I saw him being wheeled into the hospital on that stretcher -- partly because it would be sooooo typical of "Lost" to spare Penny, only to murder Des. It was even more stressful when an unusually frazzled Eloise showed up at the hospital and apologized to Penny for her role in Ben's attack. Then, near the end of the episode, when a frightened Eloise admitted that she didn't know if Des was going to be OK, I almost wet myself. Thankfully, Des was fine (though I am a bit worried about little Charlie. Why would Penny leave her son alone with a nurse she didn't know right after she and her entire family had almost been killed. Wouldn't she be hanging on to her tot for dear life?)
* Ok, with Desmond out of the way, we can discuss Daniel. Following his return to the island, Daniel ends up where we always knew he would, in the Orchid, bumping into Dr. Chang. That's, of course, how the season started. Turns out, Daniel was there to persuade Chang to get his people off the island because there was going to be an electromagnetic event that day. The event leads to the building of the Swan, which eventually leads to Desmond's failure to push the button, which leads to the crash, which leads to the arrival of the freighter, blah, blah, blah.
Basically, Daniel later informs Kate and Jack, if he can stop that electromagnetic event, he can keep everything that followed from happening. Daniel also helpfully explains that this is possible, despite his previous assertion that the past can't be changed and that whatever happened, happened.
Apparently, he had not previously taken into account "the variables," i.e. himself and the others on the island. Because of them, things could possibly change. All they have to do is detonate the H bomb and...Ok. I have to stop. My brain is throbbing just thinking about it. Let's move on, shall we?
*Eloise's chilly demeanor and insistence on concepts like destiny make a whole lot more sense now that we know she unwittingly killed her son (or, at least, it appears that he's dead. I won't believe it for sure until his body is buried. Or possibly burned). I imagine shooting your child is more palatable if you believe it serves a higher purpose.
* Quick question -- when did Dan test his time travel experiment thingie on himself? We saw him test on the mouse and knew he tested on Theresa. Did he get sick from testing his mouse? Or did he test on himself in between the mouse and Theresa? Or, did we see him test on himself, and I've developed a case of Faraday-itis that has caused me to forget this incident? Please offer suggestions.
* Still not entirely sure why Daniel is crying when he sees the Oceanic 815 wreck on TV. Is it because, somewhere in his brain he knows the manufactured crash will lead to his mother shooting him? Is it because, somewhere in his brain, he know the crash will lead to the death of another woman he loves? Or has he just gone bat-poop insane?
* So, we've learned that Widmore is Daniel's father. Sort of shoots a big hole in my theory that Widmore was Charlotte's father. I suppose Widmore could be her father too...but ewwwww!!
* Speaking of Charlotte, Daniel finally gets around to freaking out the 1970s version of his red-headed lady love this episode. That led to what was arguably the most touching moment of the episode. Little Charlotte is eating chocolate when Daniel sees her. When she spots hims, she mournfully states "I'm not allowed to have chocolate before dinner." If I'm not mistaken, those were also adult Charlotte's last words. Awww. Poor Daniel looks heartbroken. Must say, though I sometimes find his character opaque, Jeremy Davies is excellent as Faraday, doing his best to pull back the curtain on this enigmatic guy and show us some semblance of a human being.
* Charlotte isn't the only one that Daniel freaked out. When he informs Chang that a) he's from the future and b) Miles is Chang's son, Miles wigs big time. However, I'm guessing his fervent denial that he and Chang share blood only served to convince Chang that Miles is his baby son, all grown up. Then again, I thought Widmore was Charlotte's dad, so what the hell do I know?
* With Phil/Jimmy Barrett tied up in the closet, Sawyer and Juliet know it's only a matter of time until their perfect Dharma life is torn asunder. They gather Jack, Kate, Hurley and Jin and take a vote on whether they should return home on the sub, or go back to the jungle. Jungle is winning when Daniel turns up and suggests a third option: taking a day trip to the Others' camp. Jack is for it, as Daniel has already told him that coming to the island was a mistake. Kate is wavering. Sawyer, looking to sway her, gazes in her eyes and calls her Freckles. Juliet then blurts out the code for the fence and tells her romantic rival (oh yeah -- and Jack and Daniel, too) to scram.
* Best line of the episode, while arming themselves for the journey to the Others' camp, Kate tosses Daniel a shotgun. The perplexed egghead looks at her and asks "Do you have anything for a beginner?" Ha!
* This light moment is followed by an intense shootout with Radzinsky and his merry band of black jumpsuit-wearing goons. Jack and co. escape and Radzinsky is calling for blood. He heads back to Sawyer's to ask "LaFleur" why he isn't being a better security dude. Sawyer hems and haws bit, but the jig is up when Rad-man finds Phil in the closet. D'oh! Sawyer and Juliet are busted.
* When Jack, Faraday and co. get to the Others' camp, Faraday asks for Eloise. Instead, he finds Richard who insists Eloise isn't there. Faraday then demands to see the bomb. Richard hems and haws, as Daniel sticks a gun in his face and threatens to pull the trigger. A trigger is indeed pulled, but it's Eloise doing the shooting. She shoots Daniel and apparently kills him. As he dies, Daniel gazes at his mother with a look of horror and betrayal. You knew this would happen, he tells her, but you let me come back here anyway.
Tragic. Yet somehow way less exciting than prolonged scenes of Hurley and Miles bantering in a microbus. I'm not sure why.